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Several different drugs can be used as medications for arthritis. For relief of pain, the healthcare provider may prescribe aspirin or acetaminophen. Among the drugs that are effective at relieving both pain and inflammation are NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. When choosing a medication, the healthcare provider will consider a number of factors, including the type of arthritis a person has and the intensity of the pain (if pain is present).

 

An Overview of Arthritis Medications

Healthcare providers prescribe medications for arthritis to eliminate or reduce pain and to improve functioning. In some cases, medicines may even be given to slow down joint damage. But not every drug is right for every situation. Healthcare providers consider a number of factors when choosing an arthritis medicine for a particular person. Some of these factors include:
 
  • The type of arthritis
  • The intensity of the pain (if present)
  • The potential side effects of the medicine
  • The length of time the person will take the medicine
  • Other medical conditions the person has
  • Other medications the person is taking
  • Other arthritis medications that have been tried in the past.
     
The type of arthritis a person has is the first factor a healthcare provider will consider when recommending a medication. This is because there are more than 100 types of arthritic diseases and each can have a different way of being treated. For example, osteoarthritis is often treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); however, NSAIDs are used with caution in people with enteropathic arthritis because it can make their Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis symptoms worse.
 
The following types of medicines may be recommended for treating specific types of arthritis:
 
  • Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and aspirin
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
  • Biological response modifiers
  • Colchicine or other gout medications
  • Antibiotics
  • Other medications, such as creams or sprays.
     
This article will cover a number of medicines used for arthritis. However, not all of these medicines are used for each type of arthritis. If you are interested in medications used to treat a specific type of arthritis (such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or infectious arthritis, to name a few), go to the end of this article and click any of the specific treatment or medication links.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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